RUNNING ON FUMES
Muskoka Ironman 70.3, 2012: Marc Graveline came off the bike and headed into transition, ecstatic to spot just one bike already racked in the 50 to 54 age group section.
“I’m in second place!” he thought. His teenage son Christophe was out there volunteering, the first race he’d ever attended. “I can’t blow this,” Graveline told himself. “If I can hang onto my position, I’ll get on the podium. He’ll be so proud of me.”
Graveline felt great on the run, and halfway through, he decided he had it in him to catch his rival – whoever he was. He turned up the gas. “I start running and running, and I see a person up ahead who kind of looks my age. ‘It must be him,’ I think. I catch up to him and look at his calf and – that’s not the guy.
“By the end of the race, I was running on fumes. I see this other guy at the top of the next hill, and I go, ‘That’s him, for sure.’ I sprinted up the hill. It wasn’t him, either.”
Content with a second-place finish, Graveline couldn’t believe it when he was called up to the podium and told he’d won his age group.
“That bike that was racked – it belonged to some guy who never finished the swim,” Graveline recounts. “I ran the race of my life – chasing a ghost.”
The Muskoka race, which earned Graveline a berth at the 2012 70.3 World Championship, would be just another age-grouper’s war story, but for the fact Graveline did the entire 70.3 on just 250 calories, taking in tiny cut-up portions of energy gels every few minutes throughout the bike ride – and eating nothing on the run.
Graveline’s real unseen enemy is no ghost, but sugar and the effect it has on his insulin-resistant body.
In 1998, the 5'10" Ottawa engineer was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes.
At 36, Graveline tipped the scales at 240 lb. and his blood sugar numbers were sky high: A normal person’s fasting blood sugar level is between 4 and 6. Graveline’s was over 14. His doctor feared he’d already damaged his kidneys.
“I just went nuts,” Graveline said. “I ate nothing but two tomato sandwiches a day, and I rode a stationary bike for hours on end.”
Within six months he’d lost 50 lb. and the diabetes went away.
“Exercise is the best prevention we have for type-2 diabetes right now,” says Dr. Tina Kader, an endocrinologist at Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital and a certified diabetes educator who is also a four-time contender at Kona. “It is better than any pill. Better than any insulin.”
She has a long list of diabetic athletes who clamour
Marc Graveline in the lead during the 2012 Ironman Muskoka 70.3